EADS, Lockheed launch technology demonstration for OH-58 replacement

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EADS North America and Lockheed Martin will modify three Eurocopter EC145s into technology demonstrators this year in advance of a potential competition to replace the US Army's Bell OH-58D Kiowa Warriors.

The newly rebranded AAS-72X (formerly AS645) project seeks to build on EADS's success with the army's UH-72A Lakota light utility helicopter. The service has already agreed to buy 345 UH-72As, accepting the EC145 in civil configuration for non-combat missions only.

To compete for the potential requirement to replace the OH-58D armed aerial scout, EADS must modify the EC145 to meet the army's military airworthiness specifications.

aas-72x demonstrator, eads north america
 © EADS North America

The first AAS-72X demonstrator will be modified and tested in two phases. The first series of tests at American Eurocopter's facility in Grand Prairie, Texas, will focus on a new communications and navigation suite. For the second phase, EADS will integrate a mission systems package, including pylons and weapons.

The aircraft also will receive Lockheed Martin's tactical automated sensor system targeting package now used by the US Marine Corps' Bell AH-1Z fleet.

A second demonstrator aircraft will be based in Germany. Its role will be to test the structural modifications necessary to meet a military airworthiness specification, which includes armouring and ballistic protection.